By whom? I don’t know.
It was random.
It came from a stranger.
And I’m yet to decide how I truly feel about it.
Initially, I had no reaction. I was walking around during my lunch break and as I was waiting on the sidewalk for my turn to cross the street, a passerby yelled it from a car.
I didn’t look up. I didn’t even flinch. A part of it was because it took a minute to register what they said. The other was because I’ve learned—or I’m trying to learn, I should say—to school my initial reactions to people. I’m the one who talks back. The person who’s quick to roll their eyes at a comment without realizing it, or have a sarcastic reply.
Yet, in this situation, I felt nothing. No desire to retort. I was completely numb.
For about five minutes.
When I walked back into work, my hand was shaking slightly as it all settled in. And when I told everyone what just happened, in the midst of their anger, the first thing I said was, “I’m not even that fat!”
I don’t know where that came from, but it truly didn’t even come from a place of trying to be funny.
And I still can’t figure out why the fat part of the comment bothered me more.
I mean, I know I’m black. I’ve been black since the day I was born. Because of that, I know there are people who will automatically dislike me.
They will quickly judge and decide that I’m not good enough.
That I’m not educated.
Or I’m ghetto.
Is it okay? No, of course not. But it is what it is.
Every day, all around us, there are reminders of how long we’ve come as a society coupled with instances of how much longer we have to go.
I’m not blind to the ignorance of the world.
I haven’t been since the second grade when a kid called me a ‘Negro’ but didn’t get in trouble no matter how much he hurt my feelings.
I haven’t been blind to it since earlier years when people would tell me I “sound like a white girl.”
And I wasn’t blind to it today, when I was minding my business and had to be reminded that—by societies standards—I’m not only FAT but I’m a NIGGER.
I’m not as angry as some are or would be. In part, I’m actually kind of thankful it was said to me. I know had it been said to some others, they wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Going on with their day as if it never happened wouldn’t be an option.
It would have turned them cold, maybe even bitter.
Thankfully, that’s not going to happen here because I know I can’t change the way ignorant people think.
Today was one of the first times I’ve realized, truly, that my skin color doesn’t define me.
It’s not what they call you—it’s what you answer to.
I’ve never been slim. So yes, I might be fat.
But a nigger I am not.
I’m a strong black woman.
And that’s okay!
Maybe one day it will be okay with everyone, too!